© 2009 Marica

118 – Messages from afar

My parents, who, by the way, have been married for 56 years, came to this country as newlyweds to create a life for themselves and the family they hoped to have. They left behind, in their homeland of Croatia, everyone and everything that they knew and loved to travel to the other side of the world to start a new life. The promise of something better must have been great because they truly couldn’t have chosen to go and live anywhere further away from Croatia than New Zealand. The next stop would have been Antarctica!

The dream of becoming parents was realised with the birth of three daughters – myself and my two younger sisters. Between us we three girls have created and nurtured 12 children. One of our children has created their first child so now the third generation of our family in this country has begun.

Every time our family gets together I think about what it must have been like for my parents to have been so isolated from their families, especially in the early years of living in a foreign land. Travelling from one side of the world to the other used to be an expedition and wasn’t something undertaken lightly. Letters took forever to arrive. Telephones were a rarity. Telegrams used to be the primary means of contacting someone quickly. Communication was primarily what happened in a face to face context.

This Christmas as our family gathered together the beeping of text messages being received has been a familiar sound. Mobile phones have become an extra human appendage as opposed to being a “nice to have” item. Conversations have been had while at the same time fingers have been busily writing text messages.

Today we huddled around a laptop to watch video messages to my parents from their siblings they may never see again in person.  These messages were filmed earlier this year by my eldest daughter when she visited her grandparent’s birthplace and met members of our extended family for the first time. Sharing this moment with my parents was special.

This Christmas, absent family was not absent at all as we used technology to bridge the divide of distance. We’ve even opened presents together using Skype video calls. Even so nothing can ever adequately replace the physical presence of someone you love. The power of touch and the implicit instantaneous human reaction that passes in a split second can never be adequately captured by any technology currently available that I am aware of.

Messages from afar have kept my parents going for many years. The method of receiving these messages may have improved as has the time taken to receive them. The overall impact these messages have on the receiver remains unchanged. This is what helps sustain people who feel disconnected from their roots. Messages from home are so very important and valued.

10. Every day connect with somebody.
15. Every day make a difference to yourself and others.
26. Every day take action. Every small step counts.